Tuesday, 28 March 2017

SCOTLAND: Self-Determination Ambitions

 The excitement around the ''Brexit'' has subsided, but the problem remains that Scotland questions state structures in United Kingdom after Brexit. 

Just a day before Britain kick starts Brexit proceedings, the Scottish parliament is expected to dismiss prime Minister Theresa May's overtures and back calls for a fresh independence referendum. 
Sturgeon and May met in Scotland on Monday, with the prime minister reiterating that ''now is not the time'' for a referendum and describing the four nations of the United Kingdom as an ''unstoppable force''. 

But the SNP leader maintained that an independence vote should be held by spring 2019 at the latest before Britain leaves the European Union, although after winning the backing of Scottish parliament, she needs approval from London for a referendum to take place. Rejecting such request would be politically risky for May, whose government is also trying to prevent the collapse of the power-sharing arrangement which governs Northern Ireland. 

The Brexit vote last year has spurred the independence campaign of Sturgeon, head of the ruling Scottish National Party(SNP), who argues that Scotland is being forced out the European Union against its will. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union, but they were outnumbered by voters in England and Wales, who backed Brexit.

There is a more general trend across Europe as ancient nations, regions, and peoples, currently under the jurisdiction of various states, are increasingly calling for either enhanced autonomy or outright independence and for all the benefits that go with bringing decision-making power back to the people.

Gaining independence or regaining independence is, globally, a standard democratic process. In Europe, more than half of current states did not exist just a century ago. Between the 20th and 21st century, 28 new European states have emerged. Contrary to what the mainstream media and political parties, and to an extent the EU, would have people believed, recent events show that the desire for independence and the creation of new states is completely normal, almost routine, and all part of the process for mature democracies.

Independence for Scotland will of course bring numerous benefits. Scotland is likely to follow Norway’s path and be freed up to realize its true potential as an innovative and energy-rich north European nation. But independence is about so much more than economics; it is about the right to decide on every aspect of your country’s future and not to have to follow the commands issued from capitals such as London. Independence brings freedom, the sovereignty of a people, and ultimately self-respect.

This last notion no doubt helps fuel the desire for independence. How can any self-respecting Scot look around and see their Slovene or Estonian EU colleagues sit at top table, being stakeholders in the European decision-making process, while Scots sit waiting to hear what London tells them.

Furthermore, independence is a wholly pragmatic choice, especially in a Europe that inadvertently promotes that option by only investing EU decision-making power with States and not regions. One example is, Luxembourg, Scotland and fisheries. Although Luxembourg doesn't have any coastline, it has a full seat in the EU Fisheries Council, while Scotland, with an economy partly dependent on fisheries, has no say and no seat on the EU Fisheries Council.

The self-determination issue takes center stage in  Brexit negotiations. The era of the old-fashioned nation-states is over. It’s time for a Europe of Latvia, Ireland, Scotland, Brittany and Catalonia as well as Portugal, Sweden and Austria, a Europe in which old nations can finally start to work together on the basis of equality.
Therefore, it is completely comprehensible from a European perspective that European officials should begin discussing whether an independent Scotland should simply be granted immediate entry into the European Union, after Brexit. Scotland previously belonged to the EU, and it would be in the interest of a united Europe to have no doubt of the continued existence of this association. 
By Guylain Gustave Moke
International Affairs Expert
Political Analyst/Author